Dropping the ball in the big game

Lenny McAllister Contributor
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With the anniversary of the Tea Party movement’s origins coming this past weekend, there were plenty of opportunities for activists to lament the direction of the nation under President Barack Obama. A host of speakers at anniversary tea events (including yours truly in Atlanta on Saturday) railed against particular moves that the president instituted on his watch, placing much of the onus of gridlocked government and ineffective policies to turn around the American economy to date on the Obama Administration.

However, much like the old axiom goes in the game of football, sometimes the quarterback (in this case, President Obama) gets too much of the credit for successes and too much of the blame for losses. Last Thursday’s health care summit in Washington epitomized this on the political field, showing us that although President Obama may not have been calling the best plays during his presidency to date, he may not be the primary person dropping the ball.

President Obama has not necessarily played the situations he has been faced with perfectly since coming into office, but his biggest mistake was highlighted again last week. By acquiescing to those such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to carry the agenda ball while guiding and prioritizing major pieces of legislation throughout his term in office was not exactly throwing the interception to cost his team the big game, but it was enough of a misguided approach to punt back momentum to conservatives throughout the country less than 14 months after the GOP was pronounced DOA by many nationally.

More than seeing a difference in viewpoints on calling the right plays while in power, the disconnect between President Obama and his left-wing leadership goes further into how to approach the goal line—or what the actual goal line is at all. For example, Speaker Pelosi’s recent statements suggesting that at-risk Democrats should be willing to sacrifice their seats in Congress in order to pass a highly-partisan and–controversial piece of health care reform legislation is not in sync with the others on her team. Clearly those not sitting in very safe voting districts—especially Sen. Reid and, perhaps if poll numbers continue to fall, President Obama—would prefer not to “matriculate the ball down the field” on health care at the risk of losing field position as a result of angry voters this fall. Further, by keeping the onus of the offense on the leadership coming from Pelosi and Reid, there have been too few moves to “take what is given” and too many risk-taking plays that have involved both legislative overreach (e.g., a stimulus package that failed to cap off at 8 percent in the “jobless recovery” that we are experiencing to date) and political overreach (e.g., the backroom deals to overcome filibusters in the U.S. Senate). These moves have left the Democrats in the midst of an aggressive double-team between a re-energized GOP in a mid-term election year and a passionate group of grassroots activists that are vocal about their 14 percent approval rating of Congress under current leadership.

President Obama may be at fault for putting the ball in the hands of a defiant Pelosi and a vulnerable Reid as much as he has, but he is not the one dropping the ball during the legislative process to keep power and create wins since January 2009. Although we may be in the off-season for Monday Night Football right now, we had prime-time seats for Thursday afternoon blunders, failures to communicate, and lack of teamwork by the majority team last week—moves that will either cost the American people a major win for health care reform or cost the Democrats major wins in November if the president keeps counting on the wrong players to win the game.

Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the author of the book, “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative)” purchased online at www.tinyurl.com/lennysdiary. Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .